It has to be understood what Thaddeus Lewis has done for Duke this season. He has better than a 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Jacory Harris has struggled as of late, throwing a career high four interceptions vs. UNC and throwing 9 over his past 4 games.
Running backs: Miami
Where the passing game has struggled, Miami’s running game has soared. Only two other teams in the country can say that they have three 300 plus yard runners. Combine that with Duke’s miniscule 24 carries for 25 yards vs. Georgia Tech and the clear edge goes to Miami. Damien Berry has scored at least one touchdown in six straight games.
Wide Receivers: Even
It’s easy to say that Duke has the better receivers by looking at the stats. Yet, that is primarily a reflection of the tremendous play of Thaddeus Lewis. Miami still has one of the deepest receiving cores in the country and Leonard Hankerson and Laron Byrd have stepped up enormously this season.
Offensive Line: Even
Both o-lines have struggled tremendously to protect their quarterback this season. In ACC play, Duke is giving up three sacks per game with Miami a close second at 2.9. Duke also has not been able to provide anything for their running game, as seen by their horrible yards per carry average.
Defensive Line: Miami
When Miami faced Georgia Tech earlier this season, the key to winning was stopping the run. Duke apparently missed the memo last week giving up 306 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Depth is still a concern for the Canes but Colin McCarthy has been nothing short of a savior all season long without any depth behind him and the loss of Sean Spence.
Both programs have fared poorly against the pass as of late. All Hurricane fans need reminding of is the play of Riley Skinner for proof of that. However, Duke allowed Josh Nesbitt to throw for 195 yards and tied a career high with two passing touchdowns last week. Against two quarterbacks that love to air the ball out, it could be a long Saturday for these two secondaries.
Special Teams: Miami
If there was one bright spot to the game against North Carolina, it is that the special teams’ deficiencies that haunted Miami at the beginning of the year are no longer there. Matt Bosher has returned to his Lou Groza Award kicking form and the return game behind Theron Collier has been phenomenal.
David Cutcliffe continues to be on an upward climb for Duke. Miami fans continue scratching their heads at Randy Shannon’s game management. Since Cutcliffe has arrived in Durham, the Blue Devils are 9-12, where as the Canes are barely better 19-16 under Randy Shannon. With all due respect to the Duke program, there is no reason that Duke should ever be this close to the talent level at Miami. Since it is, there’s only one way to point the finger.
Ian Hest may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.